Some election take-aways

Posted by Tom Camfield

I’m happy, of course, that Democrats took over the U. S. House of Representatives—but saddened that the voting public didn’t complete the job by also flipping the U. S. Senate. However, in this situation, half a loaf is way, way better than none.

Donald, of course, was quick to grab the spotlight with some of his usual preemptive, puerile petulance—as this tweet at 5:04 a.m. Nov. 7: “If the Democrats think they are going to waste Taxpayer Money investigating us at the House level, then we will likewise be forced to consider investigating them for all of the leaks of Classified information, and much else, at the Senate level. Two can play that game!”

Neither a thought nor a mention of anything as diplomatic as “working across the aisle” with a Democratic House to accomplish great things for the American people. 

His tweet seems to make it pretty obvious that Donald believes the main aim at governance by the Democratic House majority will be accommodating the Mueller Russian investigation. In connection with which, he fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions in order to appoint a more malleable comrade into that position. He seems to have the paramount, paranoiac fear that someone’s going to turn over the right rock one of these days.

However, Donald here appears to have overstepped his authority by immediately appointing Matthew Whitaker as a new AG—instead of allowing the Justice Department’s senior deputy (Rod Rosenstein) to step in until a replacement is submitted to the Senate for confirmation.  Whitaker also has spoken out strongly in the past against the ongoing Mueller investigation (which has been overseen by Rosenstein due to the self-recusal of recently-fired AG Jeff Sessions).  Yet, the matter has not yet reached the point of “obstruction of justice.”

MEANWHILE, CLOSER TO HOME—I was unhappy with the statewide results on initiatives—but pleased to see that Jefferson was one of the only three of the state’s 39 counties (the others King and San Juan) intelligent and far-sighted enough to vote for the proposed carbon-fee initiative—and was one of the only two (with King) that voted against the initiative to prevent local selective taxes on something such as sugary soft drinks. The state’s other counties all swallowed the millions in propaganda put forth by big business and polluting industry.

Candidate-wise, I was extremely pleased to see Democrat Kim Schrier win over perennial GOP candidate Dino Rossi for the U. S. House in our state’s 8th district, long a traditional Republican district. I had a small financial dog in that fight. My choice there was fired by my dislike for Rossi, built during his two unsuccessful quests for the governor’s office, plus a try for the Senate.

ELSEWHERE—Personally, I also looked at as a major step forward for average Americans the defeat of Governor Scott Walker in Wisconsin. I’m with AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, who summed up Walker’s defeat with “Scott Walker was a national disgrace.”

The Wisconsin governor (“organized labor’s public enemy no. 1”) crippled unions and starved school budgets.His tumultuous eight-year tenure is remembered for his multiyear battle with the state’s public-sector unions, which he decimated with his 2011 “Budget Repair Bill,” known as Act 10. The law stripped public employees of almost all meaningful collective bargaining power, forced leaders to engage in resource-draining annual certification elections, and required most public employees to pay more toward health insurance and pensions, resulting in a drop in take-home pay of 8 to 10 percent.

As a special slap to teachers, Walker exempted the unions of police, firefighters and state troopers from the changes in collective bargaining rights but not educators. He once compared protesting middle school teachers to “radical Islamic terrorists.”

Wisconsin was a key state that Donald Trump surprisingly won in 2016, despite pre-election polling consistently showing Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton enjoying a significant lead by rather comfortably high margins. Many wondered at that turn of events, but I don’t remember any charges of voting irregularities. 

MOST EGREGIOUS of the GOP’s dirty tricks this time around appear to have been in the State of Georgia. From 2012 to 2016, 1.5 million voters were purged– more than 10 percent of all voters – from records, according to a 2018 report from the Brennan Center for Justice. In comparison, 750,000 were purged from 2008 to 2012. Voters were purged in part from the rolls through an “exact match” standard that deleted people if so much as a comma was misplaced in comparing submitted material handwriting to original records. Apparent election-day winner by a small margin over Black female candidate Stacey Abrams in the governor’s race was Brian Kemp, Georgia Secretary of State since 2010—the very office that oversaw the previous purging as well as this contentious election. He did not resign the office while running for governor  (only after outgoing governor Nathan Deal declared him the victor).

Prior to the midterm, Georgia (on Kemp’s watch) also shut down 214 polling places, most in areas with higher poverty rates and significant populations of people of color. Days after the midterm voter registration deadline in Georgia passed, 53,000 voting applications were still pending, and 70% of those applications were from Black Georgians.

In many areas with signifiant minority populations, voters waited on line for an average of three hours. Many left. Thousands waited at precincts with only three voting machines—while Kemp’s office had hundreds of unused voting machines sitting in a warehouse. 

Because of voter-roll purging and strict voter-ID laws, many were forced to submit paper provisional ballots, which still had not been counted at last report. 

So the question in many minds is whether Kemp was just incompetent in supervising the election in which he was a candidate—or did he intentionally cheat?” He will likely wind up as governor after the dust settles, having utilized well the traditional GOP “ends justify the means” technique.

Meanwhile, general interest seems centered on Florida. Trump and others of his ilk continue to yell “fraud,” totally without evidential foundation, as late vote-counting (including absentees, provisionals, etc.) suggests likely statewide recounts that possibly could reverse the seeming election-day wins of GOP candidates, including governor and senator. Donald has dreamed up all manner of new ballots suddenly showing up, ballots “missing or forged,” ballots being “massively infected,” etc. A lot of those late ballots have been including absentees from military personnel, Donald—some of your supposedly favorite people. 

With his conservative Supreme Court now in place, Donald no doubt has a vague recollection of the court’s ending of the 2000 Florida recount that showed signs of possibly giving the state’s electoral votes and the presidency to Al Gore over early front-runner George W. Bush. The court’s 5-4 decision came a week before the Electoral College was scheduled to meet Dec. 18, 2000, to decide the close election. The decision gave Bush Florida’s 25 electoral votes and a national total of 271, one more than the 270 required to win the presidency. So ultimately, the vote of a single Justice of the Supreme Court gave the presidency to George W. Bush.

IT’S ALSO NOT OVER in pro-Trump Mississippi. Democrats have one final chance this month to cut into Republicans' Senate majority. With no candidate having received 50% of the vote in the Nov. 6 U. S. Senate election, Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith is facing former congressman and former U.S. agriculture secretary Mike Espy, a black Democrat, in a runoff Nov. 27 (a brief two weeks from now). Hyde-Smith won 41.4% of the vote and Espy 40.7% (and a third candidate 16.5%). While being pretty much just a getting-by-OK American, I’ve joined in the Espy campaign with several donations.

 During the campaign, Hyde-Smith was captured on video praising a supporter by declaring, "If he invited me to a public hanging, I'd be on the front row."

DONALD LOSES IT at press conference—If you want to get a true picture of Donald Trump, check out this video  (link following) of an interlude at a post-election press conference. Sarah Huckabee Sanders later accused CNN reporter Jim Acosta of “putting his hands on” the young intern staffer attempting to take his microphone (and that was sought to be supported, to a very slight degree, by a faked version of the encounter that appeared on Twitter). Donald took away Acosta’s White House pass. This and other things are shown/reported here:

Newsmax, Nov. 9—“President Donald Trump is claiming that a video the White House released depicting contact between a White House staffer and a CNN reporter wasn't altered. Trump tells reporters that the video distributed by White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was simply a ‘close up’ and ‘was not doctored.’ But a frame-by-frame comparison with an Associated Press video of the same incident shows the one tweeted by Sanders appears to speed up CNN reporter Jim Acosta's arm movement when he makes [incidental] contact with a White House intern — apparently to make the gesture more threatening.”

Hopefully, the Constitution’s First Amendment will prevail in the matter of Acosta’s White House access being denied on a presidential whim.

ON ANOTHER FRONT“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist.”—President (and retired 5-star general) Dwight E. Eisenhower, farewell address Jan. 17, 1961

My major troll the other day wrote: “So the Trump administration supports the M.I.C. [military-industrial complex]”, the same as every previous administration.” I think I would agree there to a point—although I would say “as has” rather than “the same.” Of course it’s been supported as a necessity—but that support has been to varying degrees and in differing ways. I think Donald is taking us into the area of “unwarranted influence” warned about by Ike. 

I do recall that Obama, while much less militant in all regards than Trump, did rid the world of Osama bin Laden and also led a multi-nation pact restraining nuclear progress in Iran—from which Donald quickly withdrew. I’m not sure just what Donald’s doing from one day to the next as he cozies up to such dictators as Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong Un and Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Throughout North Africa, it seems, he has inflamed Iran once again, is ignoring Syria seemingly out of regard for Putin, is arming Israel and Saudi Arabia, is continuing war in Afghanistan, disdaining Palestine, sacrificing Yemen . . . while pouring billions into “defense” spending.

Military spending has been a key focus for Trump before and after his election, with 2018′s soaring defense budget of $700 billion expected to rise even more to $716 billion next year, far more than China and Russia spend on defense.

“I’ll never forgive [Barack Obama] for what he did to our United States military . . . By not funding [the military] properly, it was depleted," Trump said last week. “Everything was old and tired and I came in and I had to fix it, and I’m in the process of spending tremendous amounts of money. So, I’ll never forgive him for what he did to our military.” —Nov. 9, 2018, Military

Center for American Progress reported back on Feb 28: “Since coming into office a little more than a year ago, the Trump administration—with help from the Republican-controlled Congress—has added more than $200 billion to the projected levels of defense spending for fiscal years 2017 through 2019. Shortly after taking office, President Donald Trump added $15 billion to former President Barack Obama’s fiscal year 2017 budget, and he proposed a fiscal year 2018 budget of $639 billion. This represented an increase of $56 billion, or 10 percent, over the proposed fiscal year 2017 budget.

“As part of the recent deal [it was reported in February] to keep the government open, Congress agreed to increase the fiscal year 2018 defense budget to $700 billion—an increase of $108 billion, or 18 percent, above the proposed 2017 budget—and the fiscal year 2019 budget to $716 billion. This means that since Trump took office, the defense budget will have grown by $133 billion, or 23 percent.” noted Aug. 13 that “President Donald Trump went to Fort Drumin upstate New York on Monday to sign the nearly $717 billion National Defense Authorization Act, which includes a 2.6 percent military pay raise and could set the stage for creation of a Space Force. . .”




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